Alumni Awards

2023 Alumni Awards

Thank you to the Alumni Association Board of Directors (Alumni Board) and Black Alumni Chapter for choosing our award recipients!

Alumni Association Board of Directors

Black Alumni Chapter

James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award

Reginald K. Harris, ’90

Owner, Shuga-Me Desserts
Auburn Hills, Michigan

After 25 years as an account executive, Reginald (Reggie) Harris turned his love of baking as a hobby into an entrepreneurial passion. In 2022, after his team finished in the top three in the Food Network series Halloween Wars, Reggie opened Shuga-Me Desserts in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The bakery is named in memory of his late mother, Dorothy “Shuga-Me” Smith, and its cakes have become nationally renowned. Reggie’s mother passed away in 2014, and his wife was diagnosed with cancer around the same time. Though a heartbreaking year, Harris says it was also the beginning of his family’s future, as it led to him opening his bakery. Reggie’s commitment to family, achievement and the positive representation of Black entrepreneurs makes him a model of professional excellence for Albion College students.

Since graduating from Albion in 1990 with a degree in Economics & Management, Reggie has broken professional barriers in the fields of sales, customer service and branding. He excels at establishing relationships and finding creative ways to communicate, engage and sell products.

Read more about the James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award and past recipients

Distinguished Alumni Award

Brad Coulter, ’82

President and CEO, Matrix Human Services
Detroit, Michigan

In 2021, Brad Coulter was recognized by Crain’s Detroit magazine as one of Metro Detroit’s leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion for his work leading Matrix Human Services. Matrix is a $50 million-per-year nonprofit that serves over 20,000 residents annually through 20 locations throughout the city of Detroit, providing services such as Head Start preschool education, teen activities, adult education, workforce training and housing counseling, plus health programs for people living with HIV.

Brad was the state-appointed emergency manager for Lincoln Park, Michigan, prior to joining Matrix as president and CEO in 2016. His current work in poverty solutions was inspired in part by his international work in finance and business development for Guardian Industries through which he spent eight years living in Asia, including five years in India. Brad is from Midland, Michigan, and he has a B.A. in economics from Albion College and an M.B.A. in finance from Indiana University.

Fazli Datoo, ’66

Co-Founder, Edesia Nutrition
Orlando, Florida

Upon retirement as an insurance executive, Fazli Datoo wanted to devote his time, energy, experience and resources to uplift the lives of children. With his support, Fazli’s daughter Navyn founded Edesia Nutrition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating malnourishment for children around the world. Since its founding in 2010, Edesia has served over 19 million children in 62 countries. Fazli’s contributions to Edesia include start-up activities, fundraising and relationship building.

In the 1960s, Fazli came to Albion College from Tanzania as the recipient of a competitive scholarship from the African Scholarship Program of American Universities. After graduating from Albion with a degree in mathematics and Phi Beta Kappa honors, Fazli earned two master’s degrees in mathematics and in actuarial science from the University of Michigan. Fazli is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. His actuarial career consists of 27 years at CIGNA, including head of CIGNA’s Actuarial Management Program, and 11 years as managing director at Swiss Reinsurance Company.

C. Robert Maxfield, ’63

Retired, Educational Leadership (Public K-12 and Oakland University)
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Dr. C. Robert (Bob) Maxfield’s career in education and educational leadership has spanned more than five decades. His professional interests and leadership have included reforming school organizational structures, new models of school finance, promoting teacher leadership and systemic approaches to addressing race-based achievement disparities in suburban schools. After graduating from Albion in 1963 with a degree in history, Maxfield earned his master’s degree and Ed.D. from Wayne State University. His career in public education in the Detroit area transitioned from teaching to administration in three school districts, including high school assistant principal, high school principal and superintendent.

In 2004, the Michigan Association of School Administrators honored Bob as the Superintendent of the Year. He joined Oakland University in 2005 as an associate professor of educational leadership and director of the Galileo Institute for Teacher Leadership; he was later appointed as interim dean of Education and Human Services followed by service as special assistant to the president and provost. Bob and his wife, Sara Maxfield, ’64, support several educational and community programs as philanthropists and volunteers.

Ande Nesmith, ’88

Associate Professor and School of Social Work Director, University of St. Thomas Morrison Family College of Health
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dr. Ande Nesmith has applied her passion for environmental and climate justice through teaching, research and professional service. She has developed curricular tools to promote an ecocentric perspective that values ethical decisions and prioritizes the health and well-being of all living organisms, ecological systems and planetary health. Dr. Nesmith serves on the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Committee on Environmental Justice and the CSWE Commission on Global Social Work Education. She has authored several peer-reviewed pieces.

Ande studies outcomes for youth and young adults in foster care and juvenile justice, and she was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study child welfare in the Czech Republic. At Albion College, Ande studied history and psychology. After graduating in 1988, she served in the Peace Corps and earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington and her Ph.D. in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Read more about the Distinguished Alumni Award and past recipients

Young Alumni Award

Melissa C. DiRado, ’12

Founding Partner, Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP
Knoxville, Tennessee

Through her work as a criminal defense attorney and community involvement, Melissa DiRado demonstrates her commitment to fair justice, leadership and service. Melissa has defended clients at trial and won multiple “not guilty” verdicts, and she was recently instrumental in State of Tennessee v. Tyshon Booker, which ruled automatic juvenile life sentence requirements as unconstitutional. Melissa is involved in her community as a high school girl’s lacrosse coach and as a mock trial coach at the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she has led her students to two national mock trial title victories.

Melissa graduated from Albion College in 2012 with a degree in political science and philosophy and a concentration in law, justice and society. She graduated from Syracuse University College of Law in 2014 and began work at the Knox County Public Defender’s Office as a line attorney after passing the bar; she later became a team leader prior to becoming a founding partner of Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP, in Knoxville.

Kate Webb, ’16

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Kate Webb’s research seeks to better understand the biological underpinnings of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and focuses on how structural inequities, individual characteristics and neurobiology interact to influence the course of psychological recovery after trauma. Her work has been funded through the American Psychological Foundation and National Institutes of Health. She has received recognition as an emerging leader in neuroscience from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the Council for Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, Society for Neuroscience and Society for Biological Psychiatry.

After graduating from Albion in 2016 with a degree in psychology, Kate earned her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. As a postdoctoral research fellow at McLean Hospital in Boston with Dr. Kerry Ressler and Dr. Nathaniel Harnett, Kate continues basic and translational research using neuroimaging, behavioral assessments and molecular genetics. In addition, Kate works on neuroethical issues, including how to identify and address racial and phenotypic biases embedded in neuroscience technologies.

Alexandra Yaw, ’14

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University
Lansing, Michigan

Dr. Alexandra Yaw researches the mechanisms by which light and other external cues control the timing and coordination of physiological processes and behavior. She has been awarded multiple postdoctoral fellowships from the National Institutes of Health and has nine publications, five of which she was the first author and several were in top journals for her field. Alexandra is an award-winning mentor for undergraduate student researchers and is active in community outreach.

Alexandra graduated from Albion in 2014 with a degree in Psychological Sciences. Through undergraduate research (FURSCA), she studied circadian rhythms and the role of sleep and nutrition on muscle performance in student athletes. Following the completion of her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences-Neurosciences from Kent State University in 2019, she has been a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Hanne Hoffman in the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University.

Read more about the Young Alumni Award and past recipients

Make a Nomination

Nominations are open year-round. Deadline for nominations is October 31. Submissions on or after November 1 will be considered for the following year.

Make a nomination

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award honors alumni who have demonstrated excellence in career achievements and contributions to community and humanity. The Young Alumni Award honors alumni who have achieved great success and/or service to the College in their first ten years after graduation. These two awards are selected by the Alumni Association Board of Directors (Alumni Board).

Learn more about the Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Young Alumni Award

The Young Alumni Award honors alumni who have achieved great success in their first ten years after graduation and/or service to the College. Each year, honorees offer inspiration and encouragement as models for principled leadership and a wholehearted commitment to serving others.

Learn more about the Young Alumni Award Recipients

James L. Curtis Alumni Leadership Award

The James L. Curtis, ’44, Alumni Leadership Award recognizes Black alumni that have made significant contributions of time and effort to Albion College and its students. This award is selected by the Black Alumni Chapter leadership team.

Learn more about the Curtis Alumni Leadership Award Recipients

Athletic Hall of Fame

Inductees into the Albion College Athletic Hall of Fame are recognized for their exceptional contributions to the achievements and prestige of Albion College in the field of athletics. Men and women are honored either by virtue of their performance on athletic teams representing the College, or by meritorious efforts in years after graduation.

Learn more about the Athletic Hall of Fame inductees

Submit a Hall of Fame nomination